Saturday, 27 October 2012

Written analysis - extracting a concept from a Photographers body of work

Original resource assignment

General assessment Feedback and teacher modelling

Extension Reading/Viewing

Student example of high grade work

Guy Griffith commentary on Joseph Cultice

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Portrait Photography tips

Before you even think about picking up your camera, the first thing you need to consider is the type of shoot you’re undertaking. Is there a certain purpose to the shoot?What do you want to tell your audience?
It could be head shots for an actor, a fashion shoot, family portrait, What are you telling us about that person and is the idea for your image going to project that?
Think carefully about the setting and style of the shoot depending upon its purpose. Will you need to direct your subject in anyway, are you in the correct environment/location? Is it an environment portrait, depicting the person a familiar setting, possibly at work or at home?

Once you’ve decided the purpose of the shoot, you’ll find it far easier to select a suitable location. Think about what might suit the style of the shoot and help you express your concept but also what particular section of the location is most aesthetically pleasing? There’s also the option of using a room indoors. Larger rooms are usually brighter (most large rooms have more windows) and give you a sense of space to work with. Smaller and dimmer rooms will suit a shot that requires more shadows and a more somber mood. Don’t forget to utilize the structures around you, particularly indoors, doorways, windows, staircases and pillars can all make for useful structural support within your image.

Determine the quality of the light
One of the most important things to consider if you are planning a shoot outdoors, is the time of day at which you shoot. I advise against working in the middle of the day, because it will be extremely difficult to work with the bright direct sunlight without the desire to capture contrast.
You could consider working slightly earlier or later in the day, so up until mid morning or after mid afternoon, this will mean you have sufficient light to work with, but it won’t be too strong. Alternatively, you could try working on an overcast or cloudy day. This might sound like a bad idea, but in actual fact, the colds act as a diffuser (reducing glare) and means that you can work throughout the day with a consistent light source.
Remember your lighting basics. Harsh or hard light creates dramatic shadows. If that’s not what you’re going for, you may want to have the subject face the light directly. Soft light can make things look flatter, but allows you to worry less about losing detail in bright highlights or dark shadows.
If you’re working indoors, you’ll want as much light to be entering the room as possible. If you know your location, determine what time of day offers the best window light by figuring out which way the windows face (north, south, east or west).
Getting your positioning right
One of the main advantages of using a studio light set up, is the freedom to move and adjust the height and angle of the light source to meet your requirements. This is obviously impossible when it comes to using natural light, so it’s up to you, the photographer, to utilise the available light as best as possible. When on location, find what you think might be a suitable place for your model to stand and then work out where the sun is in the sky. It’s essential that you don’t make your model look directly towards the sun, as they’ll just squint and get watery eyes! Begin by having them side on to the sun and work from there. A good tip here, is to get your model to turn 360 degrees gradually and for you to follow them as they turn. This way, you’ll be able to observe the change in the lighting to find the best positioning. Also consider vantage point and framing to express the message to the audience that you desire.

5. Use the light to your advantage

There are a few other techniques that you can try to make the most of the light on offer. Whenever I’m using natural light, I always carry a reflector with me. It can be extremely useful for portraits as you can reflect some of the light streaming in from the side onto the subject’s face, highlighting their key features without blinding them and needing them to look towards the sun.
On nice bright days, it’s also worth trying some backlit shots, with the sun directly behind your subject. Again, the reflector will come in handy here, as you try to achieve a warm glow around the shape of your model, and it provides some front facing light.
Remember as well that you have the option of using shade and shadows within your portraiture work. A shady spot under a tree may well be just what you need when the direct sunlight is too bright, although be sure to check that the shade is evenly spread to avoid blotches of darker areas.
Shadows are also a great way to add contrast to a subject, and can be achieved easily by having the light source directly to the side of your subject. Just be sure not to obscure any key features.
6. Window shots
Employing the sunlight through a window to light a portrait shot is a favorite technique of mine and can make for some really engaging and dramatic portraits. The soft light through the window acts as the perfect highlight for a strong and moody image and works particularly well if you have the light cast on just one side of the subjects face, leaving the other in shadow.
The general rule is that the closer to the window you are, the more light you’ll have to work with and the stronger the contrast will be between the light and the dark. Also, if the light coming through the window is too bright, you always have the option of using curtains or a blind to diffuse some of the light.

7. Camera settings

As with any portraiture work, there are a few camera techniques that will really help you to get the results you want. The first is to focus on the eyes. When we look at a photo of another person, the first thing we connect with is their eyes. Make sure that the eyes are the focal point and use manual focus if you don’t trust your auto focus to get it right!
It’s also a good idea to use a large aperture (low f-number) to blur out the background so it doesn’t attract any attention away from your subject or a small aperture (big number) for environmental portraits.

8. Communication is key
It’s absolutely vital that you interact with your model. Be sure to build up a rapport with them before your begin the shoot. Have conversations leading up to the shoot to discuss ideas and to ensure that all involved have the same understanding of what needs to be achieved on the day.
When you’re actually on the shoot, don’t expect your model to be able to read your mind. They won’t know how you want them to pose or where you want them to look unless you communicate it to them. If you’re struggling to convey the shapes you want your model to make, give them example poses yourself.
Some practical direction will really help, although be aware that some professional models will not appreciate being told how to do their job! Also, just assume that they are working harder than you. Take breaks.
9. The type of light

Don’t expect ever situation in which you use natural light to be the same. The quality and color of the light will change according to the time of day, season and the weather. Some days you’ll have warm and yellow light, where as on others, natural light will possess a blue tint.
This is where using white balance comes into play. You can use the settings to adapt to the conditions in order to achieve the tone of light you desire. I always prefer to shoot in RAW and edit the White Balance during post processing, although the in-camera presets offer a very good guide to the options available.

Shooting with a diffuser.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Juliana Beasley - Last stop Rockaway Park, student interview

  Juliana Beasley’s body of work Last stop rockaway park, was purposefully documented to show how a small group of social outcasts who, bearing the stigma of mental illness and the perception of moral turpitude, have found themselves exiled to a forgotten corner in Queens New York; known as the last stop rockaway park 

Below Photographer Juliana Beasley responds to student questions regarding her work "Last Stop Rockaway park"

Yes, this project like all my projects is personal even though I did not know any of the subjects before I started photographing them in the summer of 2002. I felt an instant personal connection to my subjects because most of them either suffer with mental illness or addiction/alcoholism. This is a subject close to my heart. I grew up in an unstable home with two alcoholic parents and a family history of depression. I also suffer from depression. 

My subjects and I differ in that I come from a different social and class background and therefore, have had more opportunities to pursue the things I love to do. I also am functioning. But, I feel a deep empathy towards my subjects. I feel very comfortable in their presence and this is perhaps one of the reasons I was able to get close to them. 

I think your third question is very similar to the second at least in my response but not completely. I felt a strong need to take portraits and to document a part of society that often remains unseen. Many of the subject never leave the Rockaway's peninsula and are generally disregarded by the mainstream. My hope was to photograph them and show their presence. Still, many people do not want to see the harsh lives and suffering of others. 

I must admit that many times when I went to photograph my subjects, I was looking to get away from my neighborhood and have an adventure at the far reaches of NYC. I often did have adventures and felt like I was stealing away from my own life. I enjoyed this private pleasure of meeting eccentric and fascinating people. This was good enough reason to photograph. Just for the experience alone.
I take these pictures because I like the simple experience of meeting interesting people and because I feel that they are unseen and disregarded in the media.
Warm wishes, Juliana

Interview conducted via email by Jake Loveric


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Paris Photo 2012

The Fair will welcome for the second year at the Grand Palais 128 galleries (36 among them are newcomers) and 23 specialists of Photography books. A renewed international selection emphasizing the diversity and quality of the artists and works presented.

This unique panorama comes again with an ambitious programming. The exhibitions “Recent Acquisitions”, “Private Collection” and “Open Book” will enable everyone to appreciate better what is at stake in photographic creation.

Paris Photo is also a moment for conviviality when artists, gallery owners, collectors, institutions, professionals, the curious and the passionate meet together. Four days punctuated by book signings, the awarding of the Paris Photo – Aperture Foundation Photobook Awards 2012, and talks by the panel members on the Platform with, among others, Hilla Becher, Rem Koolhaas and David Lynch . The latter has also selected around a hundred photographs in the Fair. His choice will be presented as a book: Paris Photo vu par David Lynch and a course through the heart of the Fair to be found on our mobile app. 

A rich edition of a high standard completed by the programming of our partners, and the permanent effervescence of the capital as we look forward to discovering the first edition of Paris Photo Los Angeles at the Paramount Pictures Studios from 25 to 28 April 2013. 

With 128 photographers being exhibited, a great place/website to find inspiration

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Lauren E.Simonutti- Mental Health

Lauren E. Simonutti, 1968, USA, passed away last week due to complications from her illness. On March 28th, 2006 she started hearing voices and was diagnosed with "rapid cycling, mixed state bipolar with schizoaffective disorder". She felt she was going mad and spent her last years almost in isolation. She turned the camera on herself and the space she was living in. She has left us with an impressive, honest and strong body of work. With her photographs she gave a voice to those that suffer in isolation.
"Over (five) years I have spent alone amidst these 8 rooms, 7 mirrors, 6 clocks, 2 minds and 199 panes of glass. And this is what I saw here. This is what I learned. I figure it could go one of two ways - I will either capture my ascension from madness to as much a level of sanity for which one of my composition could hope, or I will leave a document of it all, in the case that I should lose." - Lauren E. Simonutti
The following images come from the series The Devil's Alphabet and 8 Rooms, 7 Mirrors, 6 Clocks, 2 Minds & 199 Panes of Glass.

Artist Talk with Lauren E. Simonutti (2010) from Catherine Edelman Gallery on Vimeo.

Bela Borsodi,

For anyone interested in  physical or digital montage below is a photographer blogged by the great website 

Bela Borsodi, 1966, Austria, studied graphic design and fine art before moving to New York in 1992. His work often incorporated photography but it wasn't until 1999 that he started to fully focus on still life photography, which is still the main direction of his work. He concentrates on editorial and advertising photography and is strongly influenced by his graphic background. He combines ordinary objects and puts them in an unusual context. In his much acclaimed series Foot Fetish for V Magazine he put images of naked bodies of women in awkward positions inside women shoes. For Yalook he created a series of photographs and videos in which clothing was folded to resemble a face that spoke. Amongst his advertising clients are Galeries Lafayette, Hermes, Nike and Puma. He has also created images for editorial clients and magazines as The New York Times Magazine, Another Magazine and Stern. The following images come from the editorial series Livraison #2: Hidden Objects, Tatler #19: Seperationand Stern #36: Aus dem Schatten Getreten.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Nadav Kander - Obama's People

So what does it take to become president? well, a influential and charismatic individual, who is a great public speaker. Someone with simply a likeable face and clever body language, maybe simply a personality, who people can relate to and maybe most importantly believe. On the whole Its difficult to say why exactly Obama show to presidential fame, but what is for sure, is you cant do it on your own. Nadav Kanger explores who was responsible for building Obama's image, agreeing his policies and helping him become one of the most powerful men in the world.

Shortly after the 2008 election of Barack Obama — but prior to his inauguration —The New York Times Magazinecommissioned a series of 52 portraits of the advisers, aides, cabinet secretaries-designate, and other key people who were being assembled to become members of Obama’s incoming administration. UK-based photographer Nadav Kander was chosen for this daunting project. The result is a series of unlikely semi-formal photographs that capture the fresh, mostly-unguarded faces of a new chapter in the history of America.

"Obama's People" immediately calls to mind a series of portraits made by Richard Avedon in 1976 for Rolling Stonemagazine. That series, called “The Family”, featured portraits of all of the “power brokers” in the US at the time. Aside from the fact that all of Kander’s portraits are in color and Avedon’s were black-and-white, there are other quite stark contrasts between then and now. As Kander himself expressed it during an exclusive interview with Lens Culture, “I was very struck by how young and informal and charismatic and smart these people were. . . Most of them were like the kind of people you would meet at a barbecue. You know, really nice people, telling me about their kids. . . and full of the Obama fever.”

Eugene Kang, 24, Special Assistant to the President

Robert M. Gates, 65, Defense Secretary

Valerie Jarrett, 52, Senior Advisor

Ken Salazar, 53, Interior Secretary-Designate

Joseph R. Biden, 66, Vice President-Elect

Desirée Rogers, 49, White House Social Secretary

Christina D. Romer, 50, Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman

Mark W. Lippert, 35, National Security Council Chief of Staff

Samantha Power, 38, Adviser

Denis McDonough, 39, Senior Foreign Policy Aide

Hilary Rodham Clinton, 61, Secretary of State-Designate

Robert M. Gates, 65, Defense Secretary

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Francesca Woodman - Self Portraits

More than thirty years after her death, the moment is ripe for a historical reconsideration of her work and its reception. Woodman’s oeuvre represents a remarkably rich and singular exploration of the human body in space and of the genre of self-portraiture in particular. Her interest in female subjectivity, seriality, Conceptualist practice, and photography’s relationship to both literature and performance are also hallmarks of the heady moment in American photography during which she came of age. This retrospective offers an occasion to examine more closely the maturation and expression of a highly subjective and coherent artistic vision. It also presents an important and timely opportunity to reassess the critical developments that took place in the 1970s in American photography and video.

Born in 1958 into a family of artists, Woodman began photographing at the age of 13. By the time she enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 1975, she was already an accomplished artist with a remarkably mature and focused approach to her work. During her time at RISD, she spent a year in Rome, which proved an enormously fertile source of inspiration. After completing her degree, she moved to New York, where she made several large-scale personal projects and experimented with fashion photography. In 1981, at the age of 22, she committed suicide. Woodman’s untimely death is underscored by the startlingly compelling, complex, and artistically resolved body of work she produced during her short lifetime. Spanning the breadth of Woodman’s oeuvre, this presentation includes more than 120 vintage photographs, ranging from her earliest student experiments to her late, large-scale blueprint studies of caryatid-like figures for the ambitious Temple project (1980). The exhibition includes two of her artist books, which were an important form of expression, particularly at the end of her career. Woodman also experimented with moving images; six of her recently discovered and rarely seen short videos are presented in the exhibition.

Ben Stockley - Commercial Work

First of all here is an interesting development within Night Photography. Mollison has been commisioned by Nike to make these motion images. The creation method seems to be to attach lights onto shoes to capture the route left behind by the runner via a slow shutter speed. The locations have been selected with careful consideration of the light sources provided. All have a different feel due to the tone and colour of the location lighting. A large aperture (f/18,F22) has been used to create that deep depth of field.

Shot in the Mediterranean and a underwater studio in Paris, this underwater series is for the Surfrider Foundation, a charity group formed in California in 1984 that is dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the worlds oceans. The campaign aims to emphasise the adage that in the sea there is no such thing as a little rubbish. Ben Stockley used the way in which objects are magnified underwater to reiterate this point. The images feature objects that washed up on seashores across France. Stockley shot the seascapes separately taking a wide range of photographs in order to show the varying conditions of the ocean. He then added the objects into the scene at a later date.

"WE wanted to give the impression of the different regions of the worlds's seas and oceans using different weather conditions, water composition, wave heights and mist and stillness in these large expanse of water" he explains. "Following the creation of the seascapes I then chose to relocated to a specialist underwater studio in Paris, where we could have total control of how each object would look when placed into the original sea scape.

James Mollison

Over three years I photographed fans outside different concerts. I was fascinated by the different tribes of people that attended them, and how people emulated celebrity to form their identity. As I photographed the project I began to see how the concerts became events for people to come together with surrogate 'families', a chance to relive their youth or try and be part of a scene that happened before they were born.

Madonna-The Forum, Los Angeles, 21st May 2006

Oasis-Manchester Stadium, Manchester, UK, 3rd July 2005

50 cent-The O2 Arena, London, 10th November 2007

Mc Fly-Kings Dock, Liverpool, UK, 9th July 2005

Missy Elliot-Hammersmith Apollo, London, 28th November 2005 
Iron Maiden-Datch Forum, Milan, 3rd December 2006

Kiss-Arena di Verona, Verona, Italy, 13th May 2008

Dolly Parton-Wembley Arena, London, 19th March 2007

The Casualties-The Winter Gardens, Blackpool, UK, 10th August 2007